Friday, September 13, 2013

Bust a move(ment).


If I had a dollar for every time I counseled a patient about their sluggish bowel habits, I'd be a gabillionaire. For reals.

Bowels. There is not a day that goes by where I don't talk about them, ask about them, and make plans for them. Seriously. Because if I don't know ANYTHING else, I know this:

People do NOT like it when their bowels aren't moving.

When I'm rounding in the hospital, that's always a question I ask. And if they aren't moving, I make sure to do something to fix that. I do, because bowels that don't move make people unhappy. And that isn't just an issue with hospitalized patients.

No, 'tis not.

So, yeah. In the hospital, I know there can be tons of reasons for bowels going on strike, but outside of the hospital? That's a different story. Usually it's the person with the typical Western diet. Low on fiber, high on refined sugars. They ramble off a recall of foods they've eaten for the last few days, and you understand why things aren't moving and grooving.

So what happens next? Well. I do everything I can to avoid having them take a bunch of pills to soften their movements. I talk all about adding fiber and all that stuff which is usually met with a slightly hairy eyeball. OR it's met with a whole soliloquy about how they ARE eating a ton of fiber.

Then, I started realizing how many conversations I've had with people who aren't my patients but who have locked up innards. And to them I say the same thing. Eat the right things and your bowels will be a no-strain zone.


So they ask me for specifics and I tell them. And you know? If they follow what I told them, those suckers get to pumpin' in know time. And let me tell you, there's no gratitude like poop gratitude. Seriously. Okay, so. .  .over time, I've gotten to be a bit cocky about my ability to get things going. And since I am 100% sure that at least one person reading this either lives with someone who STAYS constipated all the time or personally is a once-per-week pooper who get's super miserable by day 6, I will bring my fool proof, stealthy non-pharmacologic bowel program straight to you for no charge.

Okay. You ready?

Step one:  Drink plenty of water. Soft bowels have lots of water in them. Duh.

Step two:  Eat more fiber.

But how is that supposed to happen? Or better yet, how can I get this stubborn person I live with to eat more fiber?

Bwwwwah ha ha haaaaaa! Guess no more, people. That's what you have ME for!

For you non-lactose intolerant people, one of the easiest ways to get your fiber on is through cereal. And no. Not just any cereal. The real, true high fiber ones.

I bring you exhibit A.

Let me be clear on something: All raisin bran cereals are NOT created equal. I personally think the Post brand not only tastes better, it has a crap-ton (no pun intended) of fiber in it. And what constitutes a "crap-ton?" Well, I'd say anything that gives you more than 30% of your daily allowance of fiber in one fell swoop totally meets that criteria.

This alone might do the trick.

I'm also a big fan of Frosted Mini-wheats. I actually suggest them to people as a midmorning or midafternoon snack. They're tasty and super high in fiber. I regularly pack these in my kids' lunchboxes. It keeps them moving and grooving--and does so inconspicuously.

I pack them for myself, too. Although as "the regulator" it is for less urgent reasons than some others in my household.

Ah hem.

Mini-wheats do a solid job with 23% of your daily allowance of fiber. That combined with a piece of fruit in a lunch box on whole wheat bread? Chile please.

And for those who are concerned about the crap-ton of sugar that can be found in these? Another great consideration is this:


I added this part in for Sweet Jo who made that very good point in the comments. Everyone isn't ready for Grape Nuts. I personally love them and am happy to sprinkle them on salads, in yogurt or in just about anything. But my feeling is that for this to work, it has to be something that the person will actually eat. I am the only one in my house willing to eat this. So as for the sugars, I recommend remembering that moderation is the key and that the likelihood of your BMI skyrocketing because of Raisin Bran alone is virtually zero.

Hmmm. What else?

Oh. This.

You've got to move to move. For reals. One of the biggest reasons (I think) that people have sluggish bowels is because they have sluggish bodies. The gut is lined with MUSCLE. Muscles need oxygen and blood flow and all that good stuff to work their best. People who exercise are less likely to have issues with regularity.


Dark green leafies go without saying. We know that those are great sources of iron but also fiber. So mix some spinach and kale into that salad. Do it people.

And now for my ace in the hole. . . . . which I say is non-pharmacologic but I guess you could consider this like a med of sorts. . . .

The clear, soluble fiber supplement. 


This stuff is genius. It's tasteless. It's odorless. It's not grainy or gritty. And it works.

The brand names ones are things like "Benefiber" or "Fibersure." I'm too cheap for that so I just get the Target brand. It's all the same.

You know how that Frank's Red Hot lady says, "I put that SH*T on everything!"

Well, I need to be on a commercial saying, "I put that SH*T in everything!"

It dissolves best in hot things. So I throw a few tablespoons in spaghetti sauce, chili, chicken and dumplings. . .you name it. If it can be stirred, I've made it into something higher in fiber. Oh and boo-ed up people? If you are kind like me and prepare your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or partner's coffee for them in the morning?


And all I will say is that any loving significant other who prepares meals and such in their homes should make no apologies for putting their loved ones on "a little plan" as I like to call it. And "little plans" are more than just about moving bowels. It's nothing for Harry to be like, "Damn, did you put the food up already?" And I say, "Yep." Then he says, "Dang. Am I on a little plan or something?" To which I reply, "Yup."


Surely do.

And so. I say to you all. Who needs laxative pills? I'd say it's the person who isn't doing the things mentioned above. This plan gets even the most stubborn innards going.

And YES the caveats are things like taking iron or chronic opioid medications. But MOST people who are constipated DO NOT fall into this category. So there.

Eat fiber. Drink water. Get up offa that thang. Move your bowels. And then repeat.

Come on, people! Let's start a movement!!! Let's start several of them!

Bwwah ha ha ha.

That's all I got this morning. How you doing?

Happy Friday.


  1. I agree with all your recommendations and have been in the uncomfortable position of poopless discomfort but what about all that sugar in those cereals you are showing here? I can see for kids but for adults isn't that setting us up for other problems? Sweet Jo

    1. That's fair. I believe that moderation is the key. I should probably say that I mix it up with GrapeNuts which is low in sugar. But the thing is that if you only have a serving and aren't going crazy at other times of the day, you should be fine. It's kind of like what I tell people about fruit. Technically, fruit (though healthy) can be high in calories and sugar although not refined ones like this. The point I'm making by mentioning fruit is that THIS isn't what gets people fat or insulin resistant. I would also venture to say the same about Raisin Bran or Mini-Wheats. Those aren't the offenders. You know what I mean?

      Moderation is the key. An awareness at all times of what you are doing and eating. I do count out 21 biscuits when I have some mini-wheats because I know that's a serving. I sure do. I really do like your points, though. For people who are really hard core about sugar, hit a health food store and get a no sugar version of the raisin bran or miniwheats without sweetener. Trader Joe's has a wide variety. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to enjoy any of them so prefer to chasten myself in other places. :)

      Thanks Sweet Jo!

  2. Ha Ha Ha. What a great post !! You made me smile for sure ...... on a little plan? - love love love it.

  3. We all need a little plan...I eat one or two prunes once a day and that seems to do the "trick". And I can tell a big difference in my "pooping"..ha..that makes me laugh to say that! when I walk a lot. It is just gross to me to think of all that stuff just sitting inside you (sorry) post!

  4. Cereal, loaded with sugar is a no, no. I hear moderation a lot, and if people knew what moderation was, we may not have a weight issue in this country. I have found that sugar, early in the morning, is a trigger for lots of people....So may other ways to get fiber besides cereal that are loaded with sugar.

    1. You sound very disciplined. I admire that. So many people aren't that way, though. I don't really believe in absolutes. I think they make people hide and feel ashamed if Rey aren't where you are mentally.

      I admit I'm mostly okay with a serving If these foods in the morning. I think it's good to just pay attention to everything. I think it's good to keep talking about moderation to help people find a happy and less oppressive middle ground.

      Thanks for your insights!

    2. Sorry about all the errors! I'm using my iPhone!

  5. You forgot one other option... having your colon removed. LOL!!! Just joshin!


  6. I LOVE oats. not quick, not instant, just plain old rolled oats. I run them through my food processor and grind em down a bit more and use them instead of flour. This morning I mixed a half cup of ground oats with a banana and a tsp of almond butter and cooked spoonfuls on the griddle like pancakes. Or you can bake them and eat them "cookie-style"

  7. Oh yes what about Oatmeal? Love it and you are so right about the get moving. Noticed a big difference when on a regular schedule of walking.

  8. Kimberly! This is a great post! Something that helped me is Green Smoothies! But I'm definitely taking your suggestions in! I love Raisin Bran, but always bought the Kellogg 's brand! Good stuff!

  9. Hahahahaha!!! I love it!! This really make me think about fiber. DEFINITELY, the most entertaining fiber post out there!


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